The U.S. Census Bureau is seeking to partner with Russian American organizations to increase participation of hard-to-reach Russian communities for the 2010 Census count. Since 1790, the United States government has conducted a census every ten years in order to count the full population in the United States. The 2010 Census will mark the 23rd census of the U.S. It is a constitutional right of all U.S. residents to participate in the census.
For recent Russian immigrants and non-native English speakers, this might be the first census they participate in, so it is important to understand what to expect from the census. “It is extremely important for our community to be accurately counted,” stated Rabbi Alexander Milchtein, the Milwaukee Synagogue for Russian Jews (MSRJ). “The 2010 Census helps gain an accurate picture of America today. If this community is under-counted, they will be underrepresented for all the government and private services for the next ten years. The role of the government is huge and many decisions are going to be made depending on the results of the census.” Following the census, results determine how more than $400 billion in funds are allocated to states for the development of hospitals, schools, police stations, roads and other critical community services.
To Milchtein, success means correctly counting the community. To make that happen residents must get involved, step up, and spread the word—after all “everyone has friends or relatives who will benefit from the services.” To ease the process, a new shorter form has been introduced with only ten easy questions, and the Census Bureau guarantees total privacy and confidentiality of the data. Every person must be counted whether he or she is a citizen or non-citizen, documented or undocumented for the greater good of the community.
The Census Bureau hopes that partnering with local Russian American organizations will bring a greater sense of inclusion to Russian-speakers. “Get your full share!” Milchtein concludes. “Residents pay taxes no matter what, if taxes go back to the community, you want to get benefits back the same proportion that you paid. If you’re not counted, it’s like you’re not here.”